Nick Rees Feb. 12, 2010, 3:30am
Terry Goddard (D)
Jerry Brown (D)
PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline) - Western Union Financial Services has agreed to a $94 million multistate settlement with four state attorneys general over illicit money transfers in the Southwest border region.
The settlement was reached between Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Western Union and the following attorneys general: Democrats Jerry Brown of California, Terry Goddard of Arizona, Gary King of New Mexico and Republican Greg Abbott of Texas.
Officials said the money will help combat illegal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as help fund The State Center, the New York-based non-profit organization which supports "vigorous enforcement" of antitrust and state consumer protection laws.
Under the agreement, Western Union will contribute $50 million to The State Center to bankroll the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance and pay $21 million to the state of Arizona to cover its investigation and litigation costs.
"For years, billions of dollars in smuggling profits have flowed freely between the United States and Mexico," Brown said. "Today's agreement with Western Union gives our region the resources and cooperation we need to stem the flow of illicit cash across our borders."
Western Union also will commit $19 million over the next several years to strengthen its own anti-money laundering efforts and provide $4 million to support an independent monitoring program.
"This is a major step in our ability to crack down on drug cartels and organized border crime." Goddard said. "Attacking the flow of illicit funds from the United States to smuggling cartels in Mexico is fundamental to our goal of crushing the cartels. The money and information made available from this settlement will offer invaluable tools to and federal law enforcement on both sides of the border."
The settlement resolves outstanding issues between Western Union and Arizona over how to prevent abuses of consumer-to-consumer money transfers. These differences have led to court cases and regulatory actions, with Arizona authorities asserting that Western union was not doing enough to detect and prevent the abuse of its services.